I've been the Consul General of Sweden in New York since 2015. It's my job to promote Sweden when it comes to trade and investment, culture and the arts. My office also provides consular services to the Swedish community in our district (nine states in northwestern U.S.) I'm a former social democratic politician and economist, and I held several cabinet-level ministerial positions in the Swedish Government 1996-2006. You can connect with me on Twitter @leifpagrotsky, Facebook @Pagrotsky, and Instagram @Pagrotsky

You can start posting your questions right now! Starting at 11 am EST, I’ll answer them!

Proof: https://twitter.com/leifpagrotsky/status/862038123408175110



EDIT Thanks so much for your questions! I really enjoyed answering them. To learn more about the work of the Consulate, please follow us on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/swedennewyork/ Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/swedennewyork and https://www.twitter.com/swedennybiz Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/swedennewyork

Comments: 770 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

Halllonsylt476 karma

Many years ago I listened to you talk at my school. You talked about how underestimated the "gråsosse" was. To go slow and be careful and not trust fast and easy solutions. Today we have a media climate that seems to value extreme opinions, easy solutions, bickering, and name calling. How can we move from that to a media climate that value in-depth analysis, intellectual honesty, and carefully planned solutions even if they are difficult to understand?

LeifPagrotsky_382 karma

Thanks for remembering my visit to your school a long time ago! My views haven't changed on that issue, but what to do about it? This is a billion dollar question. I wish I knew. What do you think?

pluribusduim183 karma

Why did Sweden discontinue it's "Call a Random Swede" campaign? I thought it was brilliant.

LeifPagrotsky_227 karma

Maybe the brilliance was that it was limited? I called once and it was great fun. I tried to sign up to be one of the responders but I was rejected because I had an American number.

Absobloodylootely106 karma

The alternative-right have created a narrative of Sweden being on the verge of collapse due to muslims. I am sure that with your role you often get confronted with this perspective.

How do you refute this false narrative when you come across it?

Do ordinary Swedes know about this narrative? If so, what has the reaction been in Sweden?

LeifPagrotsky_311 karma

Ordinary Swedes don't know about the fake narrative that Sweden is on the verge of collapse, and would not recognize it if they knew about it. The reality is so different that such statements sound absurd to us. Sweden is in good shape, the economy grows twice as fast as that of the US, employment is the highest in Europe and growing, crime rates are on a level Americans can only dream of, the budget and foreign trade are both in very big surpluses. If that's called a collapse, I suppose many countries would vote for it.

ScaryBlob95 karma

What was your secret for attending all the events that was going on in Gothenburg?

LeifPagrotsky_167 karma


Lill-Gagga86 karma

How did you experience being against the official party line in the Euro Referendum of 2003?

LeifPagrotsky_98 karma

It was very tough in the Cabinet meetings but the opposite among people outside.

VigilantMike85 karma

What lessons do you think the US could take from Sweden about promoting the arts?

LeifPagrotsky_251 karma

Offer every child in school the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument for free.

Jaytime79 karma

Whats your opinion of the Eurovision?Is it fixed or not?

Whats the hardest decision you made in government?

Have you ever wanted to punch a person you worked with a why?

LeifPagrotsky_169 karma

  1. I think it’s an exciting contest and great entertainment if you don’t take it too seriously. The final vote count is a real nail biter and it engages hundreds of millions of people in forty or fifty countries. I like the idea that so many people come together irrespective of country or language around the same music. I don't think it's fixed.

  2. Whether to keep my beard or not. My bosses, the Prime Minister and my partner, were both opposed to it but I have persisted and here I am. Another tough fight was to push through a decision to open all of EU's borders for all imports from the world's poorest countries. Many countries were dead against but we succeeded.

  3. I'd like to save this answer for my autobiography.

Seraph_Grymm56 karma

How have the current politics of both the US and Brexit impacted Sweden (in regard to trade/trade laws), and more particularly, how have they impacted your role?

LeifPagrotsky_98 karma

The effect so far has been in the form of worries and uncertainties about the future, but I don't think it has had an impact on reality yet.

Alin03155 karma

  1. What do you like most about living in New York?
  2. What do you think your next job will be after this?
  3. Can you describe your morning procedure to keep your beard at a top notch state?

LeifPagrotsky_125 karma

  1. I like the intensity and the diversity of New York, it's fantastic.
  2. I've no idea. Any suggestions?
  3. That's my well-kept secret! Fun Fact: I sold my beard once at an auction. It was for a fundraiser for girls' education in developing countries.

Senray53 karma

Is a consul general the same as an ambassador?

LeifPagrotsky_98 karma

Almost, Ambassador is the title of the chiefs of Swedish missions in capitals or in international organizations like the UN. Consul Generals are located in other important cities like New York, Istanbul, Hong Kong, etc.

RadBadTad47 karma

1) What did you come here hoping people would ask you about?

2) What did you come here hoping people wouldn't ask you about?

LeifPagrotsky_143 karma

  1. Nice, friendly and easy questions.

  2. Difficult and hostile questions.

suaveitguy36 karma

F.., marry, kill: Sweden, Finland, Norway?

LeifPagrotsky_115 karma

I say I'd marry them all, I'm a polygamist!

burgundybob33 karma

What are the biggest problems you face at your work?

LeifPagrotsky_109 karma

The air conditioning. It gets very hot in here and it's hard to concentrate.

Freybae33 karma

Trump Claims he has/is restoring America's prestige around the world. I have seen some polls from Europe that have him below Putin in terms of favorability and respect. Do those polls seem accurate, or has he restored America's image?

LeifPagrotsky_100 karma

Polls are more reliable than my personal impression as I don't live in Europe.

Freybae19 karma

Good point. thanks for the answer :)

LeifPagrotsky_24 karma

My pleasure.

suaveitguy29 karma

What is the most northern part of Sweden you have been to? What is the most northern part that is relatively accessible and affordable to travel to?

LeifPagrotsky_65 karma

The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi is the northernmost place in Sweden I've been to, and its not so difficult to reach by car or plane, although it's very far away.

But I've been even further north in Norway! Svalbard is three hours by plane further north, go there if you ever have a chance!

hummphrey27 karma

Can you comment on how tall you are? My father and I saw you last year at "En kväll i New York" at the Apollo Theater and remarked that you are a bit shorter than our 6ft selves.

LeifPagrotsky_57 karma

I'm 5'3 ft (161 cm).

fer_d26 karma

Hello. Mr. Pagrotsky. I am interested in scientific research in Sweden. What are the fields that Sweden has excelled in? Is there room to grow? If a scientist wants to go to Sweden either to immigrate or do collaborative research for a period of time, or maybe teach, what are the steps one could take? I have been to the Stockholm Water Week, and it was a fantastic event.

LeifPagrotsky_45 karma

The first step is to visit: https://studyinsweden.se https://studyinsweden.se/plan-your-studies/degree-programmes/phd-studies/

Many programs are available in English at every university. Welcome!

suaveitguy26 karma

How much time do you spend in NYC vs Sweden?

LeifPagrotsky_51 karma

95% in the United States, 5% in Sweden this year.

Ukvemsord23 karma

Why is Norway so superior to Sweden?

dudesweetman142 karma

Norway is superior in regards of having a better neighbor than Sweden. :p

LeifPagrotsky_127 karma

Yes, that's the best answer to Ukvemsord's question.

suaveitguy23 karma

How is the Blodsoppa in NYC? Any great Swedish restaurants or grocery stores there you would recommend?

LeifPagrotsky_118 karma

Soup made of blood? Are you kidding me? I wouldn't dream of trying any Blodsoppa, it sounds appalling to me.

There are several great Swedish restaurants in New York, Red Rooster in Harlem, Aquavit in midtown Manhattan and Aska in Williamsburg Brooklyn. They are not cheap but really great. I also like Fika NYC for a break and a cinnamon bun with real coffee.

summitrock16 karma

Red rooster isn't a Swedish restaurant it's just run by a swede! They serve soul food.

LeifPagrotsky_77 karma

I recognize many of the flavors. Fun fact: Marcus Samulesson and I grew up in the same suburb.

Dalkarl22 karma

Do you think Sweden should join EMU?

LeifPagrotsky_72 karma

No. The experience of the first 18 years scares me.

VanSensei12 karma

  1. What do the Swedish think of the Muslim immigration?

  2. Taler du svenska?

LeifPagrotsky_69 karma

  1. I think most Swedes feel that we should offer protection for people that are persecuted. It's their needs, not religion that should decide.

  2. Ja, göteborgska.